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Local News

March 28, 2013

State set to approve budget

Some local officials question option to defer pension costs


“The bills are crafted intentionally to make votes more difficult for the members,” he said. “There will be some things that will be very good, and some thing that are intentionally inserted into them that we are not happy about.”

For instance, Lopez said, he will be scouring the legislation to identify any spending for the administration of the controversial gun control legislation known as the SAFE Act, which was pushed through in January by Cuomo. Approximately 50 upstate counties have gone on record in opposition to that measure, arguing it impinges on the rights of those who lawfully own guns.

The Schoharie County Board of Supervisors earlier this month passed a resolution urging Lopez and state Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, to vote against any spending that would be poured into administering the new law.

Lopez said he was also troubled by what he called a $1.75 billion raid on a pool of workers’ compensation funds, using that money to balance the overall budget. That budget maneuver has also been blasted by the construction industry lobby, which contends that if the state Insurance Fund is overly capitalized, the excess money should be returned to the policy holders who paid the premiums.

Under the new budget, New York’s minimum wage, set now at $7.25 an hour, would gradually increase to $9 an hour by 2016. The wage floor would rise to $8 an hour by year’s end, and then go to $8.75 an hour at the end of 2014. The boost to $9 would kick in at the end of 2015.

The higher minimum wage emerged from compromise with Senate Republicans, who succeeded in a push for tax breaks for businesses that employ young people and veterans.

The pro-labor Fiscal Policy Institute criticized the tax breaks for businesses, saying taxpayers will end up subsidizing most of the cost to businesses that will result from the higher minimum wage.

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